Though other venues have occasionally rivaled it, the Atlantic House has been a nexus of nightlife ever since it was purchased in 1949 by Reggie Cabral, whose daughter April Cabral-Pitzner still owns it. The A-House is on almost every gay visitor’s first-time itinerary. Even if you don’t remember much the next morning, this is still a place rich in memories. Imagine, for instance, the summer of 1955, when Billie Holiday, Eartha Kitt, and Ella Fitzgerald all headlined in the Cabaret Room within a month of one another. The oldest building in the complex is a modest structure at No. 4. This was built in 1798, according to the Provincetown Historical Association Walking Tour, and rebuilt in recent years after a fire. To orient yourself, the 1798 wing houses the Little Bar downstairs, formerly the Tap Room, and the Macho Bar on the second floor, formerly the Carriage Room.
The hotel at No. 6 was built in 1812 or later. That’s where the Cabaret Room, now called the Dance Club, is found. The establishment was originally Lothrop’s Inn, a terminus for stagecoach service and a circuit courthouse. It was called the Globe House and Allstrum House before getting its current name in 1871 from Francis Smith. He was succeeded as proprietor by Ira Gilbert Iris, whose guests included Eugene O’Neill. Then Cabral took over, with Frank Hurst Jr., his brother-in-law. Cabral cultivated the patronage of famous artists, sometimes excusing overdue bar tabs in exchange for their work. The photographer David Jarrett recalled the hotel as a major gay cruising ground in the 1970s and early ’80s, where room doors upstairs were deliberately left open for visitors.
More than 2,000 buildings and vessels are searchable on buildingprovincetown.com. The Building Provincetown book is available for purchase ($20) at Town Hall, Office of the Town Clerk, 260 Commercial Street, Provincetown 02657.